On 12 March 2020 the Australian Government and the ATO announced their assistance through a stimulus package and administrative concessions, details of which are available on their websites:
I have included details below of the most relevant information, for easier reading. For further details, please visit the government sites I have referenced above.
A one-off $750 stimulus payment will be available to pensioners, social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. The payment will be tax-free and will not count as income for Social Security, Farm Household Allowance and Veteran payments. There will be one payment per eligible recipient. If a person qualifies for the one-off payment in multiple ways, they will only receive one payment.
Instant asset write-off is now $150,000
The instant asset write-off threshold will be increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and expand access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020.
Accelerated depreciation deductions
A time-limited 15-month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) will be provided to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct an additional 50% of the asset cost in the year of purchase.
50% rebate of PAYGW up to $25,000
Cash flow for employers will be boosted by up to $25,000, with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible small and medium-sized businesses. The payment will provide cash flow support to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff, between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020. The payment will be tax-free. Businesses will receive payments of 50% of their Business Activity Statements or Instalment Activity Statement from 28 April with refunds to then be paid within 14 days.
Apprentice and Trainee subsidy
Small businesses will have assistance to support the jobs of around 120,000 apprentices and trainees. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice.
Assistance for severely affected regions
Support for those sectors, regions and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education.
- You will be able to defer by up to four months the payment date of amounts due through the business activity statement (including PAYG instalments), income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise.
- Businesses on a quarterly reporting cycle will be allowed to opt into monthly GST reporting in order to get quicker access to GST refunds they may be entitled to.
- Businesses will be allowed to vary Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalment amounts to zero for the March 2020 quarter. Businesses that vary their PAYG instalment to zero can also claim a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters.
- Any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities can be remitted.
- The ATO will work with affected businesses to help them pay their existing and ongoing tax liabilities by allowing them to enter into low interest payment plans.
The bit most people miss with the ATO
The ATO relief for COVID-19 is not automatic. If you wish to receive the above assistance you need to contact them directly to apply for it. They have set up a support line on 1800 806 218 which you can call to access these benefits and discuss any issues relating to COVID-19.